Benadryl for equine hives. I’m trying it with BG.

Beautiful Girl has hives again.  Bad.

She has had hives, on and off, since we moved here.    I don’t know if it is in the water, the feed, the ground or the air.  Her blood tests basically said she was allergic to every grass, weed and tree in the universe… so that doesn’t help.  And there is no rhyme or reason to her outbreaks.   There are times when she is totally smooth and times when she breaks out in hives- but no pattern.  I don’t know what triggers her immune system.  It happens any season but not consistently.  I’ve changed her food so many times, I’ve learned her particular palate (she loves odd things like oranges and lettuces)… but I still cannot discern what triggers these hives.

As you can see, she has itchy spots on her face and hives all over her neck, sides and rump.

She rubs herself on anything she can find, hence the shoulder spots.

Last year, we had her on Tri-Hist daily, and that seemed to help.  However, this year, she is not responding with Tri-hist at all.

I called my vet on Friday.  He was going out of town but suggested that I try Benadryl until he could come see her on Tuesday.  “500mg in the morning to see if it knocks it down.” (I’m not suggesting anyone do this without asking your own vet….)

OK.  Hmmmm.  I went to the store and found liquid, gel caps and capsules.  The gel caps looked easiest, so I purchased those.    Doing the math, I realized that I needed 20 pills per dose.

OMG>  Getting 20 pills out of those stupid blister peels takes FOR EVER.  (After the first dose, I went back to a local pharmacy and got the generic brand that comes in a bottle like aspirin.  So much easier.  Sheesh.)

My trick to give the Benadryl to her is this:  Get the generic Benadryl that comes in a bottle (diphenhydramine) and put the dosage of pills into a cup.  Pour hot water over the pills and let them dissolve.  Then, once cooled, put in a syringe with apple sauce or maple syrup or whatever works.

Anyway… the first dose didn’t show anything, but she felt better the next day.  She was brighter.  On Sunday, she was again brighter.  On Monday, I did notice a softening in her coat.  She still had hives, but they were softer.

After the second round of Benadryl, she is much happier and brighter. Her eyes have cleared of gunk and her neck and torso hives are softer.

The vet came out yesterday, Tuesday, and gave her a shot – plus I have 2 syringes of something that I need to give her for 2 days to boost the shot.

Surprisingly, the vet told me to continue the Benadryl for 2 weeks!  He wants to use whatever we can to ‘knock it back and give her relief’.

At this point, she seems happier, the hives are less, but not gone.  So, I will continue with this treatment plan and let you know!

This is tonight, after one shot and 4 days of benadryl and one booster. She still has hives but they are softer. Her eyes are still clear. Crossing fingers that she will recover fully in 10 more days.


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3 comments have been posted...

  1. Alexis

    Used Benadryl successfully on an elderly (35 years!) mini mare who was similarly “allergic” to everything though I’m not sure I trust allergy testing in horses, dog, or even humans. I just don’t fully believe the “science” because personal experience of wildly inconsistent results from repeated testing. Anyway. My vet said just use the “adult dose” shown on the Benadryl packaging and don’t go by the horse’s weight. I also used Benadryl on an older 900 lb Arabiangelding whose summer bug itchies were rather dramatic. Again – just administered a couple of cut-open capsules sprinkled on his feed. Although it did not stop his hives completely he was a lot more comfortable. He was also allergic to fly spray (got hives from that too) so I had to use fly masks and fly sheets as well. Whatever was biting him ignored his legs (though apparently some could manage to bite through or under the sheet) so did not have to use those floppy leg cover thingies which he would have freaked out at anyway. The vet said that the “usual adult dose” (as in, adult human) would work fine and it did. Maybe just try that until you can talk with your own vet? Worth a try?

  2. Kathy A Johnson

    My vet also recommended Benadryl for my gelding who gets hives seemingly randomly. Fortunately for me, he does it less than once a year, usually, and doesn’t seem to be especially bothered by them. I use the generic version I buy at Costco (my dog gets it daily for her allergies, so I use the larger quantity up before it goes out of date). So far, we can just add the pills to his meals and he eats them up. I’ve never given him anything except Benadryl for his hives, and two or three doses seems to be enough. I know every horse is different, and it sounds like BG gets them more often and more seriously than my guy does. But I’m happy to have something I can give him immediately without calling the vet every time. Good luck! Hope she feels better soon.

  3. Kim

    Hi Dawn! If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club nearby, they sell Benadryl in a jar very cheap. I use to give my horse 30 Zyrtec per day (split amongst two feedings) bc of hives. It worked well for her! Hope BG is feeling better soon!

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